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While I was in NY in January … I thought the last time I was in Chinatown, there was a line out the door of this tiny restaurant – Xi’an Famous Foods – Western Chinese Cuisine.

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A branch of this restaurant in St. Mark’s Place has received great reviews from Zagat. It received the following scores:  FOOD – 24 – DECOR – 6 – SERVICE 13 – COST $12. I wondered if this is the highest ratio of FOOD:COST in Zagat NYC – while it represents great value for money. Being in the Chinatown branch (67 Bayard St) – I can only imagine that the DECOR score might even be lower than 6. When I visited this time, it was in the middle of the afternoon and all was calm.

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Their story on their website which is very surprisingly well designed given the size of the company:

Xi’an Famous Foods began as a 200 square foot basement stall in the Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing, N.Y. The original location, established in late 2005, was the first restaurant to bring the little-known cuisine of Xi’an to the United States, with signature hand-ripped noodles, secret spice mixes, and Xi’an “burgers” with housemade flatbread.

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Xi’an is located at the start of the silk road so its foods are a combination of Chinese and Middle Eastern flavors. The spices used included cumin, chili, Sichuan peppercorns and other secret ingredients.

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I ordered the hand-ripped wide noodles with spicy lamb – $7.50. It tasted really very good – although I had not been to Xi’an – the flavor was exactly what I was expecting.

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A notice was posted next to the menu explaining that a takeout will not taste as good because all the soup would have been absorbed by the congealing noodles as it cool down in as little as 15 minutes resulting in a much less spicy (dull) flavor.

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They received a huge publicity boost from Anthony Boudrain who tried and praised the spicy minced lamb burger on his show.

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I wish I had more time to try the other dishes – particularly the minced lamb burger. Overall highly recommended.

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On the web site, the restaurant offers T-shirt and gift cards and the web site looked very professional. Given the distinct taste and modern corporate image, I suspect that this restaurant chain is well on its way to be a famous brand and eventually sprouting  franchises, not just in the China or US but possibly all over Asia (if it is not already happening).

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